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Cambridge Bay is a hamlet of about 1800 people (2016) on Victoria Island, in western Nunavut. It is the largest settlement on Victoria Island. Cambridge Bay is the largest stop for passenger and research vessels traversing the Arctic Ocean's Northwest Passage, a disputed area which the Government of Canada claims are Canadian Internal Waters, while other nations state they are either territorial waters or international waters.


Cambridge Bay is named for Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge. The traditional Inuinnaqtun name for the area is Ikaluktutiak (old orthography) or Iqaluktuttiaq (new orthography) meaning "good fishing place".

To the north of the community is Ferguson Lake which flows into Wellington Bay via the Ekalluk River. The Ekalluk River is an important commercial fishing and archaeological area. The area was a traditional hunting and fishing location and archaeological sites are often found.

Barren-ground caribou (Rangifer tarandus groenlandicus), muskox (Ovibos moschatus), ringed seal (Pusa hispida), lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) and Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) were the primary prey, and remain important food sources. East of Cambridge Bay is Ovayok Territorial Park, which includes the large esker known as Ovayok (Mount Pelly).


The first known people to occupy the area were Pre-Dorset seal and caribou hunters, somewhere around 1800 BC, about 4,000 years ago. The next groups to enter the area were Paleo-Eskimo and Thule peoples; around 1500 AD, the modern Inuit made an appearance.

The first Europeans to reach Cambridge Bay were overland explorers led by Thomas Simpson in 1839; they were searching for a Northwest Passage and had crossed the sea ice on foot. Another overland expedition led by John Rae reached Cambridge Bay in 1851, and the first ship to reach the bay was under Richard Collinson who wintered there in 1852/53. Both Rae and Collinson were searching for Franklin's lost expedition. Collinson's ship came from the west, having entered the Canadian Arctic via the Bering Strait. This was the furthest east any large ship travelled from the Bering Strait until Henry Larsen in 1941. Cambridge Bay was the site of Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) outposts established during the 1920s. Although at this point most Inuit would have continued the traditional lifestyle and only visited the area rather than live there permanently. The HBC opened a post here in 1921, later than in most places, and built at the site now called the "old town".

A Distant Early Warning Line site was established in 1955, and about 200 Inuit were hired to help in the construction.


Cambridge Bay has a polar climate, no month having an average temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) or higher, and has never recorded a temperature above freezing between 31 October and 19 April.

Visitor information[edit]

  • 1 Arctic Coast Visitor Centre (Nunavut Tourism), 3 Omingmak St, +1 867 983-2224.

Get in[edit]

Map of Cambridge Bay

By boat[edit]

Although Cambridge Bay lies on the Northwest Passage, there are no passenger ships other than tourist cruises.

By plane[edit]


  • 1 Cambridge Bay Airport (YCB  IATA). Cambridge Bay Airport (Q925212) on Wikidata Cambridge Bay Airport on Wikipedia


Get around[edit]

Cambridge Bay has no cars; only snowmobiles, ATVs, SUVs and trucks. You can walk across town in 15 mins in summer but be prepared to walk on mud and gravel road. In winter you'll be walking in snow and extreme cold. There are three taxi services, run by the Co-op (983-5777), Go Cargo Taxi (983-2001) and Ziggy's Taxi (983-5775).


The old stone church in 1998

There isn't much to see in terms of sites. You're really coming to Cambridge Bay to experience life in a remote Arctic community.

  • 1 The Old Stone Church. The Roman Catholic stone church was built by the Oblate Missionaries in 1954 construction. The church was constructed from local material using seal oil and sand as mortar, and was used for services until the 1960s. In 2006, a large portion of the church, which had been designated a heritage site by the Hamlet Council, was destroyed by a fire which the RCMP said was deliberate. It is a great vantage point for photography of the hamlet across the water.
  • 2 Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS) campus, 1 Uvajuq Place, +1 867-983-7425. The main campus building of this Arctic research facility can be toured. You get to see scientific research in action. Tours occur on Wednesdays at 2pm. Free. Canadian High Arctic Research Station (Q113622988) on Wikidata


  • 1 Ovayuk Territorial Park (Uvajuq) (15 km (9 mi) east of Cambridge Bay). The park is named after a 200-m-high mountain that can see from the town on a clear day. Ovayuk is a distinctive feature of this flat coastal area, and has been a landmark for nomadic Inuit for many generations. There is a legend about giants who starved on the land. The Arctic Coast Visitor Centre can provide a guidebook that describes some 20 km of trails, camping areas and interpretive signage. The mountain is a four- to six-hour hike, or a 30-minute trip by car, from town. Muskoxen are often spotted along the road leading to the park. Ovayok Territorial Park (Q3364773) on Wikidata Ovayok Territorial Park on Wikipedia
  • Learn about sewing and traditional tool making at 2 May Hakongak Community Library and Cultural Centre, 23 Omingmak Street (Inside Kiilinik High School), +1 867-983-3009, . M-F 9:30AM-Noon, 1-4PM (closed Sa-Su).


There are several businesses in the community including a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada and a Canada Post postal service.

  • 1 Ikaluktutiak Co-op, 18 Omingmak St, +1 867-983-2201. M-F 10AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su Noon-7PM. Variety of items from fresh, frozen and canned foods to hardware and household items. The Co-op often has local art and handicrafts for sale.
  • 2 Northern Store, 4 Mitik St, +1 867-983-2571. M-F 10AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1-5PM. Fresh and frozen foods, and household items. The store features the popular Quick Stop snack bar with fresh pizza on the menu.
  • 3 Kitikmeot Foods Ltd., 26 Mitik St, +1 867-983-2881, . M-F 9AM-4PM. Offers plant tours, and a range of packaged and frozen locally harvested Arctic char fillets, lox and jerky. Muskox is often available.
  • 4 Red Fish Arts Studio, 53 Natik St, +1 403-862-3037, . Arts and craft made primarily from scrap metal.


Be prepared for a next-to-impossible destinations situation. In communities in Canada's Far North, including Cambridge Bay, supplies like groceries are brought in by boat once a year, and flown in at other times. The cost of food is outrageously high. Bringing in some supplies of your own could help keep your costs down.

Muskoxen are harvested locally, and steaks and roasts may be available in season.

  • 1 The Kuugaq Cafe, 16 Koihok Maghagak Crescent (Same building as The Ublu Inn), +1 867-983-2662, . Tu-F 8AM-6PM, Sa Su 10AM-3PM (closed M). A wide range of menu items including gluten-free options. Take-out available. Live music on Sundays. Burgers w/ fries $22+.
  • 2 Aurora Restaurant (The Lodge), 26 Omingmak St (Attached to Arctic Islands Lodge), +1 867-983-2201. W-F 7AM-7PM, Sa Su 9AM-7PM (closed M Tu). Sandwiches, fries, fish & chips. Make sure to add gravy sauce to your fries. BLT $17, burgers $19, soda $4.


  • 1 The Elks (Ikaluktutiak Elks), 2 Kopannoak St, +1 867-983-3557. The only pub in town.


  • 1 Umingmak Lodge Bed and Breakfast, 28 Iharulik Street, +1 867-983-2550, . Six spacious and bright executive suites each with separate sitting room and efficiency kitchen. A large, modern, fully equipped kitchen with adjacent great room. A full home-cooked breakfast, and frozen dinners are available. Airport pick-up and transportation to Umingmak Lodge and a daily shuttle service to and from work. Vehicles available for rent upon request. Gift shop in lobby featuring local art vendors. Exercise room with lockers for outdoor gear storage. Wheelchair accessibility – contact for information. Laundry room.
  • 2 Arctic Islands Lodge, 26 Omingmak St, +1 867-983-2345. Restaurant open to the public for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and coffee during hotel hours. Private bathrooms, cable TV, laundry facilities, WiFi. From $299.
  • 3 Green Row Executive Suites, 10 Omingmak St, +1 867 983-3456, . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. One and two bedroom self-contained fully furnished suites available for short or long-term rental. Each unit complete with cooking and laundry facilities. There are a total of 18 suites: 2 bedroom and 1 bedroom units are available. Free WiFi and gym access. Rooms available at the Saxifrage Resto Cafe for customers who require meals.
  • 4 Illu B&B, 12 Mitik St, +1 867-983-5173. Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. Spacious suites and private rooms with access to full-service kitchen, workspace area, ensuite bathroom and more. Wi-Fi and long-term stays available. C$243+.
  • 5 Enokhok Inn, 1 Akhak Road, +1 867 982-3197, toll-free: +1 866-452-5623, . 7 rooms. All rooms have satellite TV and WiFi. Free airport pickup. $225+.
  • Qillaq Lodge, 18 Koihok Maghagak Rd, +1 867-983-2067, . Single and double occupancy with shared bathroom, laundry room and dining room. Satellite and WiFi.
  • 6 The Ublu Inn, 16 Koihok Maghagak Crescent, +1 867-983-4740, . Check-in: Noon-8pm, check-out: 11AM. 4 suite bedrooms with WiFi and satellite TV. On site restaurant (Kuugaq Cafe). Wheelchair not accessible. $285/night (minimum 3 nights).


Phone service is provided by Northwestel, a division of BCE Inc. and, with their companion Bell Mobility, also handle cell phone coverage. The community is also served by the Qiniq network. Qiniq is a fixed wireless service to homes and businesses, connecting to the outside world via a satellite backbone. The Qiniq network is designed and operated by SSI Micro. In 2017, the network was upgraded to 4G LTE technology, and 2G-GSM for mobile voice.

In 2012, the roads of Cambridge Bay were imaged for Google Street View by a tricycle fitted with a camera system.

Stay safe[edit]

  • Police (RCMP) emergency number: 867-983-1111
  • Fire/ambulance: 867-983-2222

Go next[edit]

  • Snowmobile southwest for 200 km to Umingmaktok, a now abandoned settlement
This city travel guide to Cambridge Bay is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.